Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, has been assassinated near Tehran, the country’s capital. The attack, which took place on Friday, severely injured Mr Fakhrizdeh, who later died in hospital.
Iran’s defence ministry described the events in a statement released shortly after Mohsen Fakhrizdeh’s death: “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation.
“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr Fakhrizadeh was severely injured and rushed to hospital.
“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and minutes ago he passed away.”
The identities and motivations of the attackers are not currently known, but Iran’s foreign minister claims there are “serious indications of (an) Israeli role” in the attack. Mr Fakhrizadeh has also long been a controversial figure. Many Western countries have suspected that he was leading a nuclear weapon program ended in 2003, which they have accused Iran of attempting to restore. Iran denies any intention of developing nuclear weapons.
This attack will almost certainly complicate relations between the US and Iran in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency. It may also affect President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to restore the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from.
The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said of the attack: “Terrorist groups and the leaders and the perpetrators of this cowardly attempt should know that severe revenge awaits them”.